Moderate Republican Sen. Arlen Specter is switching to the Democratic Party, offering renewed hope of a filibuster-proof voting block for Senate Democrats.
In a statement issued about noon as the Capitol was digesting the stunning turn of events, Mr. Specter said he had concluded that his party had moved too far to the right, a fact demonstrated by the migration of 200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans to the Democratic Party. “I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans,” Mr. Specter said, acknowledging that his decision was certain to disappoint colleagues and supporters. If Al Franken prevails in his ongoing court case in Minnesota and Mr. Specter begins caucusing with Democrats, Democrats would have 60 votes and the ability to deny Republicans the chance to stall legislation. Mr. Specter was one of only three Republicans to support President Obama’s economic recovery legislation.
President Obama has already called Specter, saying, “We are thrilled to have you.” The GOP is stunned, stunned I tells ya, and have called an emergency meeting.